History of Money | Money Right Now

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History of Money | Money Right Now

Could today’s financial upheaval and monetary madness be signs that the system itself is fatally flawed?

Question: Can I spend money I do not have? Well, it depends on who’s asking. If it’s your 6-year-old to whom you are trying to teach financial responsibility, and he is wanting to buy—or wanting you to buy—a bike without having earned or saved a dime, the answer is, “No.” If it’s your 16-year-old, who wants a car now that he has his license, the answer might be, “As long as you use it for work and you pay it off fast.” If it’s your 26-year-old, who needs to buy a house, the answer is, “You pretty much have to.” And if it happens to be the secretary of the Treasury or the chairman of the Federal Reserve, the answer is, “Are you kidding? The whole nation is based on debt; there would be no economy if you didn’t.

It makes you wonder. At what point, exactly, does spending money you do not have become a good idea? When you want something bigger than a bike? When you buy a house? Only when you are dealing with macroeconomics?

Whatever the case, right now Americans can spend and are spending thousands of dollars they do not have. About 40 percent of American families currently spend more than they earn using credit cards, car payments, house mortgages and even more exotic financial tools that give you a little bit now and get a lot from you later. The average American is saving around 1 percent of his income, and is carrying $8,400 in credit card debt and $69,227 just in principal on his mortgage.

And fewer of these borrowed dollars are being spent to make dollars. In fact, many Americans—and Britons—are starting to turn to their credit cards to pay their mortgages, as well as their groceries and utilities.

Are you sagging under the pressure of what you owe? Do you get a disheartened feeling when you stop by the mailbox? Is the worst word you know debt?

If you are an average American, debt is a way of life.

Unfortunately, that’s only the loose change. The estimated national debt of the United States government is $9,568,350,572,867. That’s over $9.5 trillion. If you are reading this tomorrow, the figure will be $1.79 billion higher. All told, the national debt makes each American man, woman, kindergartner and infant responsible for an additional $31,407 of debt. The federal government is also running its largest budget deficit of all time this year: spending a gigantic $482 billion more than it took in. That’s not counting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has risen to over $80 billion so far this year. Together, that’s way over half a trillion dollars; enough money to pay off your mortgage about 3 million times.

That deficit doesn’t include billions spent on rescuing troubled financial institutions by the Federal Reserve, and it hasn’t even priced how much it will cost to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quavering lending leviathans that hold almost half of America’s $12 trillion in mortgages. The government is stepping in to bail out those two financial services institutions with an unlimited line of credit.

This nation now finds itself addicted to a steady diet of debt, diversion and short-term jury-rigging. For example, the national deficit would be even larger if politicians were not raiding Social Security funds to pay for current expenses. Social Security is a case of weapons-grade recklessness; 80 million baby-boomer workers have been paying into Social Security for decades. Now that they have begun retiring, a tidal wave of people—10,000 each day for the next 20 years—who have been paying into the government’s retirement entitlement program will begin withdrawing from it. The problem is, the government has already spent the money. And then some. Today’s smaller generation just can’t support the baby boomers, and if the government tried to borrow the money, the debt would destroy the economy by 2050, if something else didn’t get it first. If it tries to increase taxation to cover its decades of irresponsibility, the Congressional Budget Office says your taxes would more than double. This would also ruin the economy, since the current tax rate is already 30.8 percent. And we haven’t even talked about Medicare or Medicaid. Or “institutionalized” government waste: $375 billion back in 2000.

It’s like watching a slow-motion train-wreck unfold—for decades! There’s just one nagging thing about spending money you don’t have, whether you are a reckless 6-year-old or a responsible 66-year-old: You have to pay it back.

Individually and nationally, our debt is growing into a more and more thunderous landslide. And we’re under it.

What we are dealing with here is not just a reckless current Congress, a spendthrift administration or a debt-addicted populace. We are looking at the death throes of our entire malformed monetary system.

Like the proverb says, the borrower is servant to the lender. And the higher we climb away from that principle of reality, the harder it will hurt when we fall. How long can breaking basic godly principles of finance last?

We are all about to find out.

Can you spend lots of money you don’t have without becoming a slave? Individually, corporately and nationally, people think the answer is yes. But step back and look at America’s monetary “state of the Union” today—failing banks, anemic manufacturing, corporate corruption, individual liabilities, deteriorating investor confidence, reckless government spending, irresponsible “budgets,” foreign ownership and all the larger ramifications an American financial meltdown entails—and the answer seems to be the same thing you tell your 6-year-old: No.

God has a lot to say about our finances, since He is the one who continuously gives us our wealth and the ability to use it. He does not condemn borrowing money as a sin. However, He does not approve of reckless or irresponsible spending because He knows it will wind up hurting us in the end—as we are seeing now. To help us climb the mountain of financial success and avoid the landslide of debt, God has included scores of principles and proverbs about having a right perspective on and earning and spending the wealth He gives us. You might be surprised! Check Proverbs 3:9-10; 8:19-21; 10:3-5; 11:4, 15, 24-28. Also chapter 12, verse 11; 13:4, 11, 18, 22; 14:4, 23; 18:9; 19:15, 17; 20:13; 21:5-6, 17, 25; 22:1-2, 4, 7, 9, 22, 26-27, 29. This book alone is a well-stocked account from which you can make unlimited withdrawals!

Prove in your own financial life whether or not these principles are true and can lead you out of debt and fear and into success and peace of mind!

Tomorrow, we’ll look at where money began and why our monetary system today is wobbling out of control. In the meantime, for a horizon of hope, check out “A New World Economy.”